Walking along the streets of Brooklyn, inside one of the many galleries are pieces by Thaddeus Wolfe, a Toledo native who makes geometric, crystal-like vessels that are redefining the boundaries of glass blowing.
Recently, named one of Artsy’s 30 emerging artists to watch during Frieze Week, Wolfe is repping the Glass City, and its glass, in a major way.
Anything but crystal clear
While the Toledo-turned-Brooklyn artist has designed his career around glass, Wolfe did not truly discover the art form until his second year of college. He originally entered his alma mater, the Cleveland Institute of Art, as a painting student, only to switch courses following an elective glass class, being drawn to the medium’s physicality.
“There’s something that attracts people to [glass] inherently, it’s just optically beautiful,” said Wolfe. “There’s not a lot of other material that behaves like it, which adds mystery.”
Wolfe’s collection consists of a variety of vessels and lamps of many colors and shapes, ranging in transparency. “The way I’ve been working for the last four or five years, I started making these really rough shapes that were inspired by mineral formations and also modern architecture.”
When most art lovers think of glass, they think of fluidity and simplicity. Vases and bowls come to mind, however, Wolfe is more interested in showcasing the material in a different but still optically pleasing way. “I’m not trying to make something conventionally beautiful. It ends up being appealing visually but it’s not meant to be simply beautiful glass.”
Blown away from home
Wolfe grew up in West Toledo and attended high school at St. Francis. He speaks fondly of the Glass City and his memories of our own dynamic art community. “I used to take Saturday afternoon classes at the Toledo Museum of Art,” said Wolfe, adding that “The idea of being an artist was inspiring.”
Toledoans take pride in their glass and the downtown area boasts several galleries where glass blowing is done on a regular basis, such as Gathered Glassblowing Studio and Firenation Glass Studio.
According to Wolfe, glass is special in Toledo because people are proud of it and they recognize its artistry. Beyond the museum and its addition of the glass pavilion in 2006, Toledo is also home to Libbey Glass since 1888 and Toledo has remained its home while becoming one of the largest glass makers and distributors in the country.
Living and working in New York, however, has its obvious advantages for Wolfe. The gallery systems make it possible for artists to survive solely on their work.
Although Wolfe is a part of the Brooklyn artist community, it is refreshing and thrilling to see Toledo churning out new talent for the rest of the country. We have our niche in terms of the artists who live and work here to help the revival of our great city, but it’s also nice to have someone from our town live and thrive in Brooklyn, too.
Support artists who make a name for themselves elsewhere to help give Toledo the artistic reputation we all know it deserves.
For more on Thaddeus Wolfe and his art: thaddeuswolfe.com. For interest in sales contact email@example.com